Turkish Food – A Börek Recipe

A couple of days ago, we went to Fethiye market to buy some yufka. Over the years, we’ve developed a love of cooking and have stopped buying many of the ready prepared goodies from the shelves and deli counters. You’d be amazed how much money it’s saved us, too. We’ve posted some of our recipes for home made dips such as antep ezmesi (a Turkish spicy tomato dip), cacık (refreshing yoghurt and cucumber) and hummus, amongst others. If we’re responsible for what goes into these creations, we can’t complain if the taste isn’t quite right!

However, there are some things in the world of Turkish Cuisine that are best left to those who know exactly what they’re doing – the expert – the yufkacı. I am truly grateful to all those skilful Turkish people who produce the countless sheets of yufka (such as the lady at Fethiye market) for people like me to use, eat and enjoy. Yufka truly is wonderful stuff.

This Turkish börek dish is made up from pleasant börek eating experiences we’ve enjoyed while being in Turkey. At Fethiye otogar, I once had a small, coiled börek with a cheese and parsley filling. I’d never seen börek presented like this before and I loved the pattern the coils made. Last month in Istanbul, I had perhaps my favourite börek experience when I had a hot, spinach-filled pastry for breakfast. Chillies galore! So this spicy cheese and spinach pastry is based on those experiences.

Turkish Recipe For Spinach & Cheese Börek

Turkish Börek Ingredients

Spinach, onion, chillies and cheese

First of all, grease a large baking tray and prepare your ingredients for the filling. How much you prepare depends on how big you want your börek to be. Mine finished up around 40cm in diameter.

Börek cheese and spinach

You can mix the cheese into the spinach in the pan

  • Chop an onion and a handful of chillies (if you’re going the spicy route) and fry them gently for a few minutes.
  • Roughly chop around 250g of spinach and once the onion is nicely softened, add the spinach, salt, pepper and a generous sprinkling of paprika.
  • Once the spinach is wilted, take the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool down.
  • When the mixture is cool, add 3 or 4 handfuls of börek cheese and stir it all together. (Crumbled feta cheese will suffice if you can’t get börek cheese.)
Filling the Turkish Börek

Fresh yufka is best

How To Roll Your Börek

Now it’s time to start the fun bit. In Turkey, yufka is made in rather large round sheets of around half a metre in diameter. You need three of these. Yufka is a slightly thicker version of phyllo pastry. I have never worked with phyllo pastry so if you are using it, you need to judge how many sheets you need to use and you may have to double them up.

  • First of all, beat an egg and mix a glug of olive oil into it.
  • Take a sheet of yufka and cut it in half.
  • Place it on a flat surface with the curved end away from you and brush some of the egg mixture around the curved edge.
  • Take 3 or 4 heaped teaspoons of your spicy cheese and spinach mixture and place it about an inch above the flat edge of your yufka. Thin the mixture out so it lines end to end.
  • Start to roll the yufka (carefully) and keep going until you have a long thin sausage shape.
  • Transfer it to your greased baking try and form a coil, brushing with the egg to help it to stick together.
  • Take the other half of the yufka sheet and repeat the steps. All you do now is keep rolling and brushing and coiling until you run out of room on your baking tray.
  • Preheat the oven to around 200 degrees and bake your fantastic creation for 20 minutes or until it looks golden.
Finished Turkish Börek

An impressive looking spinach and cheese börek

Either serve it straight away or eat it cold. We’ve enjoyed the best of both worlds as we’ve had the leftovers for lunch.

If you’re in Turkey, use the freshest yufka you can get your hands on. Don’t use the vacuum packed variety as it dries out as soon as you open the packet and you won’t be able to roll it without it cracking.

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Comments

  1. i love any kinda börek, spinachi and cheese combo s perfect;)

  2. I think I’m becoming addicted too Yesim! 🙂

  3. I love this kind of pies! actually here in Greece we call them “strefte” which means “twisted”! 😀

  4. Gorgeous! My mom makes Boureki and with hnadmade phyllo…an art!

  5. Wowww another authentic and exotic recipe!! I am lovin’ it!!

  6. That looks really good! I don’t know where I could get yufka around here, but now you got me wondering!
    Thanks for such a great post!
    Dennis

  7. Eatgreek – we’re learning new things every day! 🙂
    Peter, Thanks. I reckon hand made phyllo is definitely an art!! That’s why we leave it to those who know how. 🙂
    Kimberly, not sure how authentic it is, but it’s close. It tasted good anyway. 🙂
    Dennis, I bet there are stores in your area that sell Middle Eastern, Turkish or Greek food? Or you could make your own?!! 🙂

  8. fantastic recipe! the only yufkas we get here are the frozen ones! do I need to learn how to make them from scratch> I dont mind!

  9. This looks fabulous! I’ve never had this before nor have I seen such a beautiful way of making it. It’s got all my favorite ingredients in it. Will have to try this out soon. Thanks!

  10. Taste of Beirut, I wouldn’t know where to start.
    Ping, thanks. The spinach is sooo good in this pastry.

  11. This looks really awesome!

  12. This sounds and looks wonderful!Love the flavors!
    Congrats on the top 9! 🙂

  13. Congrats on the Top 9! Looks so yummy!

  14. This is soooo good. I want some right now.

  15. Even locals who have lots of experience in the kitchen can’t manage to bake this borek so beautifully! Very impressive, well done! I discovered your blog thanks to foodbuzz and found it very interesting by the way. I can’t believe you can make things like Antep ezmesi and muhamara and you are English!:)

  16. your borek or snail pie as I call it looks so delicious. Reading your post I remember I have a unopened package of 3 yukfa sheets in the freezer ( I don’t always find them and buy lots when I do) Now I just have to buy the spinach and I’m enjoying it. Yummy.
    Congrats on making it to top 9

  17. Cherine, Dimah and Veronica, thanks a lot. Very happy! 🙂
    Adelina, we’re making some more because we enjoyed it so much.
    Gozde, thanks for finding us – and we’ve found you now as well! 🙂 Thank you for you lovely comment. We both love to cook all sorts of food.
    Green Girl – Thank you. Snail Pie? An interesting name for it. 🙂

  18. This looks amazing. I never would have thought that this style of borek is so manageable for someone not experienced in Borek making. When you reference “chillies” is there a certain pepper you buy for these, or just any Turkish hot pepper?

  19. Jake, it’s easier than it looks. A good one for impresing friends 🙂 We always have something hot and spicy in the house. Flakes, powder, sauce, fresh. Usually all of them as we love spicy food. We use any of those, whatever mood we’re in, to give a kick to a dish.

  20. AberdeenPeanut says:

    For the first time I spent Christmas and New Year in Turkey, also for the first time I had nobody else to cater for so did not have to go out to eat. I just want to say thank you for your recipes. I went with print outs of the recipes for borek, Turkish rice, mushroom risotto and kofte and made them all. Had great fun shopping for ingredients and cooking. Do you know how long fresh yufka keeps for as I was not sure whether to keep the leftover sheet and use it another day.

  21. @ Aberdeen Peanut: Thanks for the lovely comment. Great to hear someone actually makes the food we post about. 🙂

    I’ve kept fresh yufka wrapped in paper (it sweats if you leave it in a plastic bag) for 3 days but it’s not easy to work with after that long as it loses its elasticity. I try to use it the day I buy it; if not, the day after.

  22. Ooh, you guys did it in the round! Mine was the flat version (http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2010/09/recipe-for-borek.html). Yum yum!

  23. @ Deniz: We just thought it looked pretty that way. Will check yours out. 🙂

  24. Just put my borek in the oven, it looks amazing and smells great! Lovely recipe, looking forwards to trying one in Turkey this August too! Thanks!

  25. @ Lucyhg: Hope you enjoyed your börek and hope you enjoy your time in Turkey in August, too. 🙂

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